Game Twenty-Nine: Cubs (14-14) vs. Nationals (9-21)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Angel Guzman (0-0, 2.45/1.23) vs. Shawn Hill (2-3, 3.00/1.08)
Angel Guzman will make his first start of the season today in the series finale. A win today would give the Cubs the sweep, a season high 5-game winning streak and most importantly put them a game over .500 for the first time since April 7th when Carlos Zambrano beat Ben Sheets in Milwaukee. Guzman earned a spot on the big league roster out of Spring Training before being optioned to Iowa. Guzman pitched well out of the pen before his demotion to Triple-A to get stretched out in order to become a starter again. Guzman struggled at Iowa and today he must figure out a way to put his recent outings behind him and put his team in position to win the game….hopefully earning his first big league victory in the process. Angel Guzman’s struggles at Iowa have been well documented. After posting a 2.45 ERA (1.23 WHIP) in 4 games out of the Cubs’ bullpen (2 runs, 8 hits, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk in 7 1/3 innings) he was unable to pitch past the 5th inning in three starts with the I-Cubs with two of his three starts being against the Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). In the two starts he made against the Sounds (one in Nashville, the other in Des Moines), Guzman could not find the strike zone. He walked 6 batters in 6 innings while not recording a strikeout and allowed 10 runs on 10 hits. The other team he faced was the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) and he struck out 5 while allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 4 1/3 innings without giving up a single walk.
Last season Guzman struggled in his first 15 appearances at the big league level. He posted a 0-6 record with a 7.39 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP while walking 37 and striking out 60 (teams hit .308 against Guzman in 2006) but he pitched better at Wrigley than he did on the road. In 6 starts (9 games) he posted a 0-2 record with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP while holding teams to a .250 batting average (22 runs, 20 earned, 34 hits, 27 walks, 40 k’s in 37 2/3 innings).
Today will be the first time Guzman has faced the Expos/Nationals franchise.
Shawn Hill has had a very good start to his first full season with the Nationals. After making 6 starts last year (1-3, 4.66 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) in May and June he was placed on the 15-day DL on July 1st with right elbow soreness. Hill made 5 starts in April and did not allow more than 2 earned runs in any of those starts. His last outing against the Padres was a 3-0 loss when the anemic Nationals offense could not manage a single run against Chris Young. In 39 innings this year he has given up 31 hits, walked 11 and recorded 25 strikeouts.
Hill will face the Cubs for the first time in his career today.
Lou Piniella has stated Guzman is not being recalled to make just one start and will start his next three turns in the rotation. A solid outing by Guzman today will go a long way towards easing the mind of his manager and his teammates.
On the rumor front, Jacque Jones is on the Angels’ radar while some members of the mainstream media just don’t get it.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….